I am a South African.
I am a single mother.
I am a mature student.
Yet none of these labels define me nor will I let them! It all started when I moved to England from South Africa and yes, I stood out in my bright clothes, with my harsh vowels, as I started work at a posh stately home. I was forever referred to as ‘the South African’ never the sales executive, and therefore judged not on my merits but on my nationality. After one of my colleagues referred to me as the company’s only ethnic minority, I made a concerted effort to lose my accent, in an effort to lose my label. To a greater extent it worked.
Then at 38 I became , to coin the label, a ‘single mother’. I didn’t conform to the typical stereotype and was more of a Bridget Jones gone rogue. I hadn’t found the man of my dreams but had always wanted a child, so it was the best thing that ever happened to me. As far as I’m concerned, every mother bar those in a lesbian relationship, is a single mother by dint of the fact that they are the only mother! Suffice to say, hardest job in the world but best job in the world and I wouldn’t have it any other way but god help anyone who refers to me or judges me or indeed looks down on me as a single mother! I am a woman with a child doing what I was put on this earth to do.
Now at the tender age of 47 I’m fighting a new label …. mature student. I’ve just completed my first semester of a 4 year degree in Business Information Systems. I never did uni the first time round and its been one of those things I needed to conquer… the alternative bucket list if you must. People of my generation tend not to hit the technology degrees so my natural rebel is out and loving that I’m challenging traditions. On my first day, one of the university faculty reminisced on his days at college and ‘Mature Mary’ who had the car…. and there I was again, thinking no way was I going to be stuck with the label ‘mature student’. Judge me on my merits not my age! So here I am getting a great crack at life, learning and sharing with a bunch of 18 year olds and challenging myself and society. Yay me!
So there you have it, my absolute aversion to labels…..call me bolshy!